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Preparation and adaptability, the keys for an efficient forward order process

B2B sales seasons in fashion are intense and nerve-wracking, but also fun and personal. People reconnect, catch up and gossip just as much as they aim to reach the budgets and get all orders in before deadline. Quantification is often seen as an “unnecessary evil”: the process is tedious and very admin-heavy, but it is crucial in the forward order intake process for. Digital solutions can either help or block this process even further if you are not well prepared. Here are 3 tips from sales experts to get all your forward orders in the system on time 

draft the order before the appointment

Waiting until the end of your appointment to quantify your assortment can make buyers feel rushed, forcing them to finish the order after the appointment. Instead, prepare a draft order for the current proposal using past order history. Take this draft as a guiding tool during the appointment. This is important as it will help you work over a baseline rather than and empty size grid. 

For smaller accounts and orders, you can send the draft order with a copy of the proposed assortment beforehand. This can be a huge time-saver, giving you time to negotiate the best assortment possible during the appointment instead of spending time on filling in quantities. In some cases, you can even save a sales appointment altogether if the buyer is convinced! 

See How Draft Order Works in HATCH in this on-demand webinar

Expectations during forward order season

Plan in time to discuss quantities.

Confirming quantities for a forward order doesn't always happen during the appointment. Sometimes sales teams need to wait until the retailer reviews the overall buy across multiple brands. In that time span, quantities can change, leading to an intense email exchange between parties before deadline. 

If you want to minimize post-appointment changes, ramp up your pre-appointment preparation. Allocate time during the appointment to discuss quantities. Build an assortment proposal with quantities so these become part of your appointment flow and part of the discussion, instead of an admin step afterwards. Even when fashion wholesale accounts can't confirm on the spot, they'll take a proposal with quantities back to their office instead of just a list of items with quantities to be filled in. 

Quantify on the go, not in one go. 

Better preparation can unlock less admin and negotiation hassle during your forward order period. However, as much as preparation is important, adaptability is just as important once you're in a sales appointment. Change styles, swap colourways or adding local heroes, changes to a proposed assortment are natural during a sales appointment and how you navigate these changes is key to secure forward orders as quickly as possible.

When changes are made to an assortment, tackle changes to the quantities behind those styles as well. Breaking down quantification per assortment/story helps you stay focused on the story you're selling. In contrast, when quantification (or changes to it) happen in one go, the process becomes more a matter of logic and calculation, which could lead into changes that are detrimental to the quality of the story and assortment you're selling.

negotiating in fashion wholesale

High buyer's confidence = low order changes

Improving your forward order intake process is ultimately a matter of improving the buyer experience.  Many buyers can receive hundreds of proposals per season, with equal amount of orders to fulfill. If you want to make it easy for you after the appointment, focus on making it easy for them during the appoitment. Make sure they leave your showroom with confidence on their selection, including quantities. A buyer that leaves with confidence will feel reassured to upsell their choices internally too. The result? less changes for you and better sales results. 

Think of these tips as the ABC of Forward Orders in fashion.

"Always Be Closing".

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